Pakistan has in the Press Freedom Index 2020 by Reporters Without Borders to place 145 of a total of 180. In 2017, disappeared more liberal-minded bloggers. Journalists and Internet publicists feel controlled and sometimes threatened. Even if the freedom of the press is constantly in jeopardy, Pakistan has a well-developed, liberalized media landscape that has developed rapidly in both quantitative and qualitative terms over the past decade (e.g. three state-controlled TV channels in 2002 became 89 TV channels in 2012). The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority founded in 2002 under Musharraf”(PEMRA) is the regulatory authority for private media companies.
The media are the best source for visitors to the country to find out about political events, currents and discussions and to get a sensitive inside view.
The technological progress in the areas of the Internet, including social media, and mobile communications shows a steadily increasing trend with currently around 20 million Internet users and around 115 million mobile communications users.
This and other detailed information and analyzes can be found in the Asia Media Barometer for Pakistan from the Friedrich-Ebert Foundation.
The right to information
Another positive development is the inclusion of Article 19A on the right to information, “Right to Information”, in the course of the 18th constitutional amendment. At the same time, however, this right is restricted in that freedom of the media is subject to restrictions if, among other things, it endangers the “glory of Islam” or the “integrity and security of Pakistan” (own translation). Most recently in 2010, Facebook and YouTube were temporarily banned due to criticism of the Pakistani military.
Despite the relatively good media freedom, Pakistani journalists work in a highly insecure environment. Journalists are often forced to self-censure with regard to highly sensitive topics, such as religious minorities or the controversial blasphemy law.
Media formats in Pakistan
Print and online daily newspapers
The following English-language newspapers in particular are of an international standard in terms of their presentation and journalism; their full editions are on the Internet every day:
- Dawn from Karachi – the nationally and internationally most respected newspaper was brought into being by the state’s founder, Jinnah, and years ago received an international award for the world’s best web version of a daily newspaper.
- The News International from Lahore and Islamabad – also a very renowned daily newspaper
- The Nation from Lahore – which likes to criticize the authorities, especially in its editorials and commentaries
- Frontier Post from Peshawar – takes an independent and often inconvenient opinion, with which it makes friends neither with the authorities nor with representatives of the clergy, and which it therefore pays for with frequent forced closings and arrests of the editors
- The Express Tribune from Islamabad – is the first internationally affiliated daily newspaper in Pakistan, namely with “The Internationnal Herald Tribune”, the global edition of “The New York Times”
- Daily Times from Lahore – is best known for its pro-minority stance
- Pakistan News Service’s Pak-Tribune provides daily compilations of a wide variety of Pakistan news
The Urdu-language daily newspapers that are also available online include: Daily Jang (affiliated with “The News International”) and Nawa-i-Waqt.
Infopedia provides further information on the top daily newspapers.
The Friday Times, a critical analytical newspaper, should be mentioned among the English-language weekly newspapers. Well-known political monthly magazines include The Herald (affiliated with Dawn) and Newsline.
The number of 24/7 news networks in Urdu has grown rapidly. They entertain the Pakistani audience with political talk shows, some of which are very good, some of which are of questionable quality. The content of the different TV channels is diverse and also includes satire formats and socially critical programs. Some mainstream channels with a focus on news programs:
- GEO News – is probably the most popular TV news channel
- Express News – popular news channel
- PTV News – is the official Pakistani news channel
The medium of local or community radio is particularly important for rural regions. Many of these stations broadcast their programs in regional languages and are very popular in the respective areas. The radio medium is also used by extremist groups, particularly to reach the rural population. The local radio station in Swat, illegally launched by Mullah Radio, was an example of this until the military operation in May 2009.
Telecommunications and internet
With the liberalization of the telecommunications and internet market in Pakistan since 2002, the number of cell phone users has risen rapidly from under two million to around 151 million (July 2018). While the area coverage of the mobile network has reached up to 79% and thus also covers many rural areas of Pakistan, the expansion of the Internet remained comparatively low.
Because of the numerous providers, cell phones are relatively inexpensive and are used by people of all classes. The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) takes care of the telecommunications sector.
The Pakistani Post
According to computerannals, the Pakistani Post Office is one of the oldest government agencies in Pakistan. It is a state-owned company that offers a wide range of postal services and is represented with around 13,000 branches in Pakistan. In addition, the Pakistani Post acts as an agency for national and state governments, including billing for electricity, water, gas and telephone. She is a member of the Universal Postal Union network. In addition, it issues new stamps every year, often commemorating well-known personalities.